Fit at 60
Just a few years before your 60s, you probably did the FAFSA form for your last kid entering college, and now you’re getting ready for the Medicare forms? Time flies for sure! But embrace the senior years because it is in this decade that senior discounts, pensions, social security, and medical benefits start kicking in.
Changes in your body
You probably can’t run a marathon like a young person, but that’s okay! A 65-year old’s heart can’t pump above 1½ quarts of blood per minute, while a healthy 25-year old’s heart can pump 2½ quarts per minute. The most crucial thing is to stay physically active because, as the clock ticks, you lose more muscles and gain fat in its place. Fat gain is not good for your heart and cholesterol. But the good news is that exercise can help lower the risk of heart problems and manage high cholesterol levels.
Aches and pains may be common, and for some, it may be a bit worse than usual. But this doesn’t have to become an excuse to move around less. A survey shows that only 32% of adults who are 65 and older follow a regular exercise plan of 30 minutes at least five days a week. There is clear evidence that daily physical activity is like medicine for older adults, and it improves functional independence.
Which nutrients do you need the most?
Antioxidants, vitamin D, calcium, probiotics, and omega-3 fats are all vital for your health. It is crucial to pay attention to vitamin B12 levels and take supplements based on your needs after consultation with your doctor. Besides vitamin B12, B vitamins B6 and folate (B9) are also important. B12, B6, and folate are nutrients that enable the methylation process in the body.
Methylation is a process that happens every second in your body to keep you healthy. It helps repair the DNA material, releases energy from food, balances mood, and performs other functions. B vitamins B6, folate (B9), and B12 promote proper methylation. However, because of age-related factors, medications, and MTHFR gene mutation, some people may have trouble with the methylation process.
People with MTHFR gene mutation (irrespective of age group) especially have trouble with this process, even if they take enough folate. It happens due to a lack of the enzyme MTHFR that converts dietary folate into methyl folate for the body. In such cases, taking supplements that contain the readily absorbable methylfolate form is beneficial.
What about your thoughts and mindset in your 60s?
The 60s are when you grasp for sure that control doesn’t equal happiness. If the laundry is not done your way, you let it go and are appreciative of the person who did it for you. Also, it is natural in this decade to think about retirement. But if you’re at a job you’re enjoying, by all means, continue working. For those keen on retirement, continue to connect with people through social activities and volunteering to stay active. Depending on the type of job you do, retiring may be a cause for improvement or decline in your health. It’s best to use your discernment here!
In general, don’t get sidetracked by negative stereotypes about aging. Keep in mind, people like Judge Judy and KFC-founder Colonel Sanders all made it big in their 60s! So it’s never too late to start something new.
How can you nurture your brain and your mind?
If you want to keep your memory and alertness intact, exercise regularly and maintain social connections. A 2011 study found that exercise helped increase the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and spatial memory that helps in navigation.
Socialize in whatever form works for you—book clubs, community programs, knitting, learning a language, etc. All of these activities help boost your brain activity. One study on older women found that those who socialized were 26% less likely to develop dementia than those with a smaller network.
Crossword/jigsaw puzzles, a game of chess, gardening, and pursuing music or art are other ways to boost your brain activity. Meditation is also a fantastic way to reduce brain aging. Researchers found that meditation negated the effects of aging on the brain. It is suggested that meditation could be an effective way to preserve brain function and reduce the risk of dementia and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
The take-home message for you should be to keep making healthy choices with food and lifestyle habits. Exercise regularly and socialize often to keep your cognitive health intact. If you have minimal health issues and a good attitude, there’s nothing to fret because age is a mere number.
How to exercise during your 60s and beyond
By Samuel Biesack
Exercise recommendations change drastically as you age. By the time you’ve reached your 60s, exercise recommendations become far more focused in terms of which exercises you should perform and how much exercise you should do. This is mostly due to a reduced ability to recover from strenuous activity.
While reaching the milestone of your sixth decade is traditionally comprised of relaxation and enjoying free time, it’s not a time to completely give up being active. In fact, if you’re hoping to use your years of retirement to enjoy time with friends and family, remaining active through exercise can have a lasting impact.
From the age of 60 and onward, it’s recommended that you focus on three main components of fitness to ensure you’ll maintain a high quality of life as your body continues to age. Those three components include strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. Fortunately, covering these three components of fitness is easier than you might think.
At first, it seems to make sense that as you age, you’d want to back off from using heavier weights. While in some cases that may be true, using a weight that’s heavy relative to your strength is a significant factor in maintaining independence as you age.
Simply, if you’re not regularly telling your muscles to move forcefully, your body won’t maintain strength. Despite seeming a bit silly at younger ages, maintaining this strength could eventually be the reason you’re able to stand up from a chair on your own.
Additionally, using heavy loads forces your bones to remain healthy and resilient against stress. As you age, the risk of fracturing bones increases and can seriously hamper independence. Using heavy resistance now could provide your bones with the strength needed to avoid injury at a later date.
As mentioned previously, using one of LVAC’s Certified Trainers to help guide you through workouts of this sort is a smart move.
Flexibility and movement
Maintaining proper mobility, flexibility, and range of motion of your joints and muscles should be a primary consideration after you’ve turned 60.
Studies on this subject suggest that range of motion—how easily you can move your limbs without pain—plays a role in your quality of life. Being able to move without pain means you’re at a lower risk of injury but also more likely to enjoy activities that require your body to move.
At this age and beyond, attending classes such as Yoga, PIYO, and BodyFlow should be a priority in your exercise routine.
As you age, this risk of developing cardiovascular disease is much higher. Fortunately, maintaining cardiovascular health through exercise is quite easy, even if it’s not in the gym (6).
While attending high-intensity cardio classes might not be the best idea unless you’re an experienced athlete, maintaining proper cardiovascular health can be achieved even through lower-intensity activities. Classes like BodyStep and Cycle are great ideas to maintain or improve your fitness.
Lastly, don’t shy away from using forms of exercise you particularly enjoy. Walking the golf course instead of using a cart, going for daily walks with a friend, and swimming are all great choices, especially if it’s an activity you enjoy doing. Enjoyment means you’ll be more likely to do it, and you’ll probably put forth more considerable effort at the same time.
Here’s how an example week of exercise might look during your 60s:
· Monday: Strength Training with your trainer
· Tuesday: Cardio activity (Lite Workout, golfing, brisk walking)
· Wednesday: BodyFlow
· Thursday: Rest and recovery day
· Friday: Strength training with your trainer
· Saturday: Yoga
· Sunday: Golfing, swimming, etc.